When WotC announced the creation of Modern, and a brand-spanking new banned list, I was elated. I have been far less interested in Legacy since Mental Misstep was printed, and I’m fairly tired of standard Caw mirror-matches. I play most of my constructed formats online, and I was picking up modern staples within 20 minutes of the Community Cup announcement. I started testing weeks ago, and I’d planned on writing a big article with a dozen decklists, but Gavin not only beat me to the punch, but put out a far more comprehensive list than I could have hoped to. Kudos to him, but it also meant that I had to scrap what I was working on, and write a different article. Oh, bother.
To start off discussing the Modern format, I thought I’d highlight what was, in my opinion, the one glaring omission from the banned list: Cloudpost. With the testing I have been doing over the past two weeks, I have serious doubts that card will make it past the December bannings. It provides far too much mana, far too quickly, and far too consistently to be healthy for the format. But, while it’s here, we might as well abuse the hell out of it.
Back in the OG Mirrodin Block Constructed, Gabriel Nassif top8’d the Pro Tour with a Tooth and Nail deck dubbed Twelvepost, due to the eight land-searching cards it played to find it’s four favorite Locus, Cloudpost. In Modern, we also have Twelvepost decks, though using that naming convention, the current crop could very well be called Thirty-Two Post for as many ways you have to increase your Locus count. While Nassif struggled with getting one of his four Posts into play, we have even more options. If the known interaction between Cloudpost and Vesuva wasn’t enough, adding Glimmerpost to the mix not only makes achieving those absurd levels of mana easier, it provides enough life gain to keep your deck going against aggro. More than once, I have cast a Primeval Titan to find two Glimmerposts which put myself out of burn range for Zoo.
Twelvepost combines all of the elements that made Valakut so frustrating to play against, like each game playing out the same way, and adds in tools to make it even stronger against counterspells and hate. Unlike Valakut, however, there are a lot of different directions Twelvepost can go in. Some versions are tuned better to beat aggro decks or combo, some are better against hate, and some are designed to give you better options in the mirror. You can play it as a turn 4-5 combo deck, or as a slower control deck. I’ll go over some of the different variants, and what each has to offer.
To start off, the basic package for every Cloudpost deck looks like this:
Beyond that, each deck also has some combination of the following cards to carve out its niche. You have the ability to generate an absurd amount of colorless mana, but what are the ways to get it into play, and what do you do with it once you have it?
Land Searching/Mana Acceleration
Exploration Map: The gold standard, though it’s possible that if you are playing a list with 4 main deck Chalice of the Voids, you may want to cut down on these, or switch to Sylvan Scrying to avoiding getting snagged in your own trap.
Explore: As close to an auto-include as you can get if you are playing green. Turn 1 Cloudpost followed up by turn 2 Explore/Vesuva, generally leads to a turn 3 Primeval Titan or Wurmcoil Engine. In what world is that fair? It’s also one of the best cards in the mirror, letting you push beyond the natural parity of counting each Locus on the battlefield, and forcing your opponent to either start laying basics, or risk getting Eldrazi’d first.
Oracle of Mul Daya: In an ideal hand, Oracle is very low on your priority list, and isn’t going to speed you up much, if at all. Not every hand is ideal, though, and when combined with Life from the Loam, Oracle is one of the best ways to combat land destruction. It’s also nearly unbeatable if you are on a mirror-plan of using Ghost Quarter/Loam to disrupt your opponent’s mana.
Primeval Titan: Easily the best non-Eldrazi in the list, it’s very hard to lose a game where he resolves. He can gain you 10 life, or tutor up an Eye of Ugin and a Cloudpost, letting you go off with an untap. His ability to get two Glimmerpost against aggro is also not to be underestimated.
Reap and Sow: Fact: Putting lands into play is good. Fact: Hindering your opponent’s lands is also good. Fact: Doing both is good. I think this is a hard card to run as a 4 of, because it doesn’t help you out much against fast decks (where you have most of your issues go begin with), but it is good as your 3rd Post-Fixer.
Signets: Acceptable in blue lists, but that’s about it. They seem like they should be really, really good, but they just do less if your deck is able to easily search out real lands instead. On the plus side, when combined with the mountains that Blood Moon is so nice to provide you, you get an Engineered Explosive for three.
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn: The most obvious, and ubiquitous inclusion, your win percentage after resolving an Emrakul is pretty close to 100%. That wouldn’t be so exciting if he wasn’t so easy to cast on turn 5. In the hundred or so games I have played so far with Twelvepost decks, I have yet to lose one where he has been hard cast. I’m sure it’s possible, but it would require a Herculean effort on your opponent’s end (or a Pestermite).
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre: The best of the â€˜utility’ Eldrazi, his ability to destroy one permanent helps to nullify a lot of the cards that are traditionally good against Twelvepost, such as Ensnaring Bridge. Having one in your list rarely hurts, and can get you out of bad situations.
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth: The runt of the bunch, but getting to 10 mana is far easier than 15, especially if you are under a Blood Moon. He isn’t an auto-inclusion, but I have a hard time running lists without him.
Primeval Titan: I’m not even sure how much more I have to say about him. He fixes your mana, and attacks if in a pinch if you can’t use his ability to tutor out an Emrakul.
Wurmcoil Engine: While he’s no Primeval Titan, he does beat an aggro deck, and therefore worthy of at least one spot. Of note, you can search him out with Eye of Ugin if you are short on mana, and just need a blocker next turn.
Sundering Titan: Many lists ran him early on in testing, but he’s just worse than the other options. He is rarely able to actually lock decks out of the game, and even if he was, you’d probably rather just be playing a Primeval Titan and winning the game anyway. Maybe if Path didn’t exist, but it does. He is just too fragile right now.
Things To Do With Mana (Other Than Cast Eldrazi)
Mindslaver/Academy Ruins: I like Mindslaver largely because the decks you have the most problems with, namely combo, are the ones that are most easily defeated by Slaver. It’s also very good in the mirror when your mana gets nuts quickly. While your opponent is racing to 15 mana, you can hit 10, and set up
All is Dust: A Wrath of God that misses most of your stuff, but also deals with problematic cards like Blood Moon. Very good deal.
Death Cloud: Much harder to pull off, but I’m sure there will be a version using this at some point. A Death Cloud for 3 will destroy most decks, and for 5+ will easily leave you with the only permanents in play.
Common Sideboard Cards
Chalice of the Void/Trinisphere: Because of you are generally weak to combo, you need to bring in cards that help you out. I preferred Chalice for a while, since Dragonstorm began as the main combo, but it is less effective against Splinter Twin and Hive Mind, so I’m going towards Trinisphere now.
Bojuka Bog: Easy to incorporate graveyard hate. As of right now, there aren’t a lot of graveyard decks, so one slot is probably enough. If they start showing up, you may need to throw in Crypt or Relic.
While green is pretty clearly the most likely color to go in Cloudpost, there are other decks. Both mono blue and U/B cloudpost decks have merit, and I have even played against a mono black variant that increased the artifact mana count, fetched up an Urborg, and cast a Death Cloud that left me with stone nothing in the hand or board. No matter what the combination, the engine is strong.
Before we get into individual builds, I think it’s important to talk about the risks that come with playing Cloudpost in Modern. Risks are inherent to any deck you wish to play, whether it be Punishing Fire/Grove of the Burnwillows threatening your army of 2/2s, Life from the Loam keeping your â€˜kill every land ever’ plan from succeeding, or the fact that every deck runs enough graveyard hate to keep your reanimator deck from functioning.
For Twelvepost, though, the risks revolve around your most precious resource: your lands. Unlike Standard, there are plenty of ways to gum up the works for your lands, and simply opening up with a Cloudpost isn’t always enough.
Blood Moon/Magus of the Moon: Basically the nightmare cards. They are good at coming down quick and making your deck full of six drops+ play fair. What’s worse, they mostly appear in decks with fast clocks to begin with. Fair isn’t fun, so you need to have solutions to dealing with them.
The most common solution is to bring in enchantment hate like Nature’s Claim for Blood Moon. While that doesn’t work against the Magus, his popularity has been low as many of the control decks are also running Punishing Fire or Dismember. Other solutions include using Engineered Explosives if your deck is running Signets (Thanks for the 3rd color bro), Repeal at end of turn before casting Emrakul, or ramping up to the mana required for an All is Dust.
None of these cards provide enough of a risk to make me consider not playing the deck, but you have to take a lot of care with your land drops, and sometimes fetching a basic instead of a dual, or leading with a Misty Rainforest instead of a Cloudpost if you don’t want to get stuck with no ways cast the remaining cards in your hand, is the correct play.
Ghost Quarter/Tectonic Edge: Since we don’t have to worry about Wasteland, most decks have resorted to using Ghost Quarter, though a few do use Edge. In either case, a single dead land isn’t too debilitating as you do have 8 Cloudposts after all. But be mindful against these decks when you are making land drops. If you can search out a land, and you have a Cloudpost in play, it’s usually correct to get the Vesuva and make a copy, since you have a higher chance of drawing your additional Cloudposts if both lands are destroyed. It also means you need to be somewhat careful choosing when you get Eye of Ugin in play, as a dead Eye with no method of recurring it will force you to actually draw your Eldrazi. Again, don’t play fair if you don’t have to. The Eye is best if you cheat it into play untapped.
Inherent Combo Weakness: Most of your good acceleration comes into play tapped, which means you will have to choose between racing their deck, and being able to put up any resistance.
Mirror Matchup Shenanigans: There is no delicate way to go over this. The mirror match is kind of a clusterf…you know. The problem is that since Cloudpost counts all Loci on the battlefield, the mana gets out of hand very quickly, and you have to carefully weigh your own acceleration against risking your opponent beats you to the punch with a big spell. I play a Cloudpost, you play a Cloudpost, I play a second Post, tap my first for 3, make a Signet, then tap it for an Explore, and drop a Glimmerpost (forget it if it’s a Vesuva or Cloudpost). I’m untapping on turn 3 with Eldrazi mana.
Each version of Twelvepost plays out fairly similarly, though how you choose to interact with your opponent differs. In general, you want to keep hands that either have a Cloudpost, or a way to get one into play by turn 2. Exceptions can be made, of course, especially if you have an Explore and an Expedition map.
You should be aiming for a fundamental turn of 3 or 4. If you aren’t at least casting a six-drop by turn 4, you should probably ship the hand. Also, because Cloudpost generates so much mana, the deck is pretty forgiving with mulligans to 6, though 5s are rough.
Much like Valakut, it’s important to play through your opponent’s counters. Your deck is so threat-heavy (especially the Green Sun’s Zenith versions) that there is little point in waiting out your opponent. Most blue decks will have Vendilion Clique anyway, and forcing your opponent to spend early mana Remanding your spells is better than giving them an opportunity to cast the Clique and put a real clock on you.
Against Zoo and other aggro decks, you generally want to prioritize Glimmerposts to keep your life total high. You win these games by getting a Primeval Titan in play, not a turn five Emrakul. Once you’ve resolved Titan, the rest is easy, and shooting for six mana a double-digit life total is usually the correct line of play over than hitting twelve and dying to double Lightning Bolts.
Finally, Primeval Titan fetches Eye of Ugin, but unless you have Loam or naturally drew an Emrakul, it’s important to protect it. Try to keep from getting it into play it unless you can use it in the same turn if your opponent has any way of dealing with your legendary land.
Now, on to the decklists.
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 4 Wall of Roots
- 1 Magus of the Candelabra
- 1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
- 1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
- 4 Overgrown Battlement
- 1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
- 4 Primeval Titan
- 1 Wurmcoil Engine
Advantages: Consistent, very resilient to Blood Moon. Incredibly good aggro matchup.
Weaknesses: Very poor combo matchup.
This deck plays out very similarly in just about every game. Your turn 1 is spent casting either a Green Sun’s Zenith for 0, getting Dryad Arbor and then playing Ancient Stirrings to find a Cloudpost, or just playing a Cloudpost. From there, you accelerate with walls over the next two turns, cast a turn 4 Primeval Titan, and then win on 5. Every once and a while, you will luck into the turn 3 Titan into turn 4 win, but it’s less common.
- 2 Oracle of Mul Daya
- 1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
- 1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
- 1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
- 4 Primeval Titan
- 2 Wurmcoil Engine
Advantages: Easily deals with creature decks.
Weaknesses: Mediocre mirror-matchup, along with a poor combo matchup.
I’d been testing this list before the mono-green deck, and really liked it, but it is probably just worse than the mono-green deck right now. That is mainly just because Zoo is the main aggro deck, and it is full of x/3s. If Merfolk, Boros, or Elves become the decks de jour, then R/G will have an easier time dealing with them.
Advantages: Counters provide good answers to combo and control, and gives you something good to do in the mirror.
Weaknesses: Less fast than the heavier-green versions. Finding Cloudposts can be difficult.
Jarvis Yu gave me the initial version of this decklist, which I tweaked as the format shifted towards more Zoo decks. This straddles a middle-line between the more controlling mono blue version, and the fast green ones. You are basically trading your awesome Zoo matchup and horrid combo version for a fine Zoo matchup, and a fine control matchup.
Advantages: Mindslaver is faster to play than casting an Emrakul, and even using it once can beat many decks in the format, or set them far enough behind to get the lock in place. Counterspells give you a much better combo matchup, and help against control.
Weaknesses: Aggro matchups can be difficult. It has the most difficulty dealing with land destruction and Blood Moon. It’s the least explosive version.
This is a little different than the version Gavin posted a few days ago, removing the Trinket Mage package (which I am not a huge fan of) for the Slaver package which I love, though I will admit it may fall into the danger of cool things.
Twelvepost is going to be a big player in the metagame, so you need to have some kind of plan for the mirror. Simply hoping to go first, and having the first opportunity to cast your big spells is not a good plan. The question comes down to how much you want to dedicate to the mirror, and deciding on cards that are only good in the mirror, or cards that have applications elsewhere. This may come down largely to just how much of a dog your version is against combo or aggro.
Eye of Ugin is very important in the mirrors. Cloudposts are fairly cheap, as you can always use Vesuva to copy your opponents, but most decks only have one Eye, and being the first to search out Emrakul leads to that player typically winning. At the same time, simply playing the first Eye can be a risk since any of your opponent’s Vesuvas can legend rule it out.
In general, I would suggest waiting as long as possible on getting your Eye in play unless you have a Loam to get it back. In particular, it can often be correct to Exploration Map it out, and then hold the land until you can play it and fetch Emrakul. You don’t need to be able to cast him right away, but threatening him will keep your opponent’s options for ramping themselves up limited. The last thing they need is to stick you on 15 mana.
Magus of the Tabernacle: He acts very similarly to Cloudposts 13+, except he doesn’t require a land drop, and gives your other posts haste. Assuming your opponent has no way to kill him, he is probably the most powerful card for a non-blue mirror, leading to plays like turn 3 Primeval Titan. I’ve seen a lot of lists playing him main, but in my mind, he just gives you dead cards against the various gifts-control and aggro matchups. I run him as a one-of in my Green Sun’s Zenith list, which is I think the ideal placement for him.
Reap and Sow: Generally less devastating to your opponent than Plow Under, but the fact that you can use it to accelerate or tutor up an Eye of Ugin to keep them off of theirs is very important. It’s also a good card to bring in against decks that are dead-set on keeping you off of Cloudposts.
Gifts Ungiven for Life from the Loam/Mindslaver/Academy Ruins/Ghost Quarter: Depending on where you are in the match, you will either use the package to deny your opponent access to Cloudposts, or to set up a Slaver-lock for next turn.
Bribery: In my opinion, this is the best option for the mono blue versions or blue/green versions (though it is hard on the U/G version’s mana). Most lists only run one Emrakul, so you are usually going to lock in the win unless their next turn involves either Slaver-Lock or an Ulamog. Even if they have their Emrakul in their hand, you can get a Titan to pretty much lock it up for you the next turn. Just be careful not to accidentally accelerate your opponent into Emrakul.
Plow Under: This is one of the best turn 3 plays in the format. Hitting two Posts against your opponent will significantly slow them down, and if you have anything in your hand, you will almost certainly win. It is less powerful than the Magus, but it has more use again the field.
Banefire: I’ve seen this cropping up recently. The idea for this card is to bring it in against blue-based decks that bring in Bribery (or a blue mirror where you expect it). Instead you board out your Eldrazi, and ramp up to a lethal Banefire.
In closing, Twelvepost is definitely one of the main archetypes to watch out for as Modern comes to Magic Online, and to the Pro Tour. Just as every deck needs a plan to deal with Zoo, any deck you develop needs a way to deal with Twelvepost and its far too-speedy Eldrazi.